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How does our electrical grid work?

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How does our electrical grid work?

Unread postby tarzan271 » Fri 18 Aug 2006, 19:06:44

I am curious why people living near large hydroelectric plants will be effected if the "Dooms-Day" scenario comes about. Water will still provide electricity to those near large dams such as the Grand Coulie or Hoover right?

I have been thinking about this for a while, but I am not quite sure how our nations electrical grid totally works. To me, electricity should be cheeper near the source.

Please enlighten me. :-D
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Re: How does our electrical grid work?

Unread postby pstarr » Fri 18 Aug 2006, 20:24:14

You are absolutely correct. Those near hydro will fare better because there is less transmission loss.
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Re: How does our electrical grid work?

Unread postby tarzan271 » Fri 18 Aug 2006, 20:41:48

My town is all hydro power. So, do you think it would be a good idea to invest in a solar/wind on-grid setup to use and sell back to the power co.? We have 1/3 acre with a large shop and wood fireplace inserts. We were thinking about an off-grid cabin, but being in-town and still living a subsitence lifestyle might be better. Green houses, chickens, hunting, fishing, etc... Any advice, or am I way off?
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Re: How does our electrical grid work?

Unread postby mekrob » Fri 18 Aug 2006, 20:45:48

How does our electrical grid work?


I flip the switch and lights come on. Pretty simple and it always works, no matter what.
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Re: How does our electrical grid work?

Unread postby gnm » Fri 18 Aug 2006, 20:45:48

Hmmmm I could answer this in a few ways....

1. duct-tape and prayers

2. barely!

3. whoever has the most money gets the juice!

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Re: How does our electrical grid work?

Unread postby Aaron » Fri 18 Aug 2006, 20:49:50

Electric grids are closed loops... everybody on the loop gets access to the power it carries.

Grids are divided up by geography, into regions.

Simply put, to get electricity to you, it must have an unbroken path.

An interruption in transmission means everyone downstream of the interruption is without power.

The reality is more complex, but the basic principals still apply.
The problem is, of course, that not only is economics bankrupt, but it has always been nothing more than politics in disguise... economics is a form of brain damage.

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Re: How does our electrical grid work?

Unread postby roel » Fri 18 Aug 2006, 22:56:20

Aaron wrote:Electric grids are closed loops... everybody on the loop gets access to the power it carries.

Simply put, to get electricity to you, it must have an unbroken path.

The reality is more complex, but the basic principals still apply.


Sorry to cut your quote a bit, Aaron. You paint a very good picture. But yes, it's more complex. Richard Duncan's Olduvai says permanent black-outs will start in 2008. The reason, as per him, and he's right, lies in the fact the electricity grid is the most complex machine ever devised by man. All those regional thingies are connected. And that means that you will get a domino effect. If it had the reselience of the internet, we'd be better off longer. But alas, the grid is made from so many zillion different components from so many different time-frames, it's a miracle it still works at all. It does so because of tons of maintenance. Many parts of the system are maxed out on hot days, as we all know. And they are not easily expanded or replaced, you're talking trillions of bucks to get it all up to date.

Now, your best bet is to get your own local power system up. And never mind the "selling back to the grid". The grid is dying. Too expensive to keep alive. Sorry.....
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Re: How does our electrical grid work?

Unread postby NEOPO » Fri 18 Aug 2006, 23:54:40

Here one example of how one day it might not work.

Geomagnetic storm

Did ya cetch that bit about "pipelines"?

Pipelines
Rapidly fluctuating geomagnetic fields can induce currents into pipelines. During these times, several problems can arise for pipeline engineers. Flow meters in the pipeline can transmit erroneous flow information, and the corrosion rate of the pipeline is dramatically increased. If engineers unwittingly attempt to balance the current during a geomagnetic storm, corrosion rates may increase even more. Pipeline managers routinely receive alerts and warnings to help them provide an efficient and long-lived system.


Why did'nt BP think of that?!? ;-)

Oh goody we have this to look forward to by 2010 or the latest 2015.

The concept of selling excess electricity caught on but I dont think the grid is that interconnected.
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Re: How does our electrical grid work?

Unread postby FishAreBest » Sat 19 Aug 2006, 18:49:22

tarzan271 wrote:To me, electricity should be cheeper near the source.


It is.

There are transmission losses, which increase with distance (and other factors such as temperature, voltage, etc.).

Here in the UK, the losses are broken down into two groups, called TUoS and DUoS (Transmission/Distribution Use of System).

TUoS are the losses in the grid (between generator and the point at which power exits the national grid).

DUoS are the losses that occur in the local distribution network, between the grid and the consumer.

Typical values for each might be 5-10%.

For small consumers, your electricity supplier might absorb the losses to maintain the same price for all consumers (for regulatory or marketing reasons). For large consumers, contracts tend to be negotiated individually, and these losses will be accounted for in the price.
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Re: How does our electrical grid work?

Unread postby dbuckley » Sun 20 Aug 2006, 03:05:39

pstarr wrote:Those near hydro will fare better because there is less transmission loss.


Not necessarily, depending on the value of "near", and the relative size of the localities near the hydro plant, and the hydro plant size.

Generally, the high voltage lines from the hydro station will go to some sort of a grid interchange point, which may be miles, dozens of miles or even hundreds of miles from where the hydro plant is.

The power for the nearby homes will come from the locat distribution, which will be connected eventually to transmission that also goes to grid interchange points.

The folks near the grid interchange where the hydro connects will have much greater security of supply than those near the plant.

As a trivial local example, New Zealands first hydro plant at Lake Coleridge feeds power 100KM to Christchurch. The Lake Coleridge community is fed by standard distribution, and the lights in the area can (and have been) off whilst the station is chucking out power to far away consumers.
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Re: How does our electrical grid work?

Unread postby Denny » Sun 20 Aug 2006, 10:06:18

As power costs increase due to fuel prices, all that wil happen is that the utilities owning hydro sources will achieve higher profits on this. As these are generally regulated, the impact is just shared among all consumers, though wiht moves afoot to implement time of day prcing, I can see the day when electtricity used at midnight wil cost us less than power used t 6 pm.

There are some small exceptions in which being near a renewable source may have advantages, some cases in which small utilities own their own hydro source, for instance.

But, politics factors into all of this. If the day comes when electric power is rationed, do you think because you happen to live in Niagara Falls you will get all the power you want, but the state legislators in Albany will be using candles? Dream on.
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Re: How does our electrical grid work?

Unread postby Niagara » Sun 20 Aug 2006, 19:59:49

During the huge blackout during the summer of 2003, someone here was on the ball and quickly isolated the Niagara region from the grid (we're near to a huge hydro-electric project).

Our power barely hiccupped, while nearby Toronto and most of Ontario was out for a few days.
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Re: How does our electrical grid work?

Unread postby FatherOfTwo » Mon 21 Aug 2006, 15:03:17

Oh Jeez Louise. Where to start, where to start.

Let’s start with the original question
I am curious why people living near large hydroelectric plants will be effected if the "Dooms-Day" scenario comes about. Water will still provide electricity to those near large dams such as the Grand Coulie or Hoover right?


There are some fundamental principals you need to understand. Electricity is consumed basically instantaneously after it is generated. The little electron used to keep your computer monitor on was generated just milliseconds ago by either a hydro plant, nuke plant, coal plant, what have you. There is very little variation that can be tolerated in an electrical grid. As demand increases, or decreases, those responsible for running the grid dispatch commands to the generators to either decrease or increase generation. When the electricity flowing through a grid exceeds thresholds in either direction is when you start to have problems and circuits trip to prevent equipment from getting damaged.

I suppose hypothetically if your community lives near a hydro plant and you always consume exactly the power that is being put out by the plant, and you are completely disconnected from the rest of the grid, then ya, you could continue on your merry way. But that isn’t the way it works.

pstarr wrote: You are absolutely correct. Those near hydro will fare better because there is less transmission loss.

LOL! What?? I’m really struggling to see what on earth you could possibly be referring to, because on the face of it that statement is pure garbage. No one fares better because there is less transmission loss. Transmission loss is just that, lost power between the generator and the end consumer. It has no impact on reliability of power availability.
A customer who is way out at the end of the line doesn’t have less reliability of power because power has been lost due to transmission.

roel wrote:Richard Duncan's Olduvai says permanent black-outs will start in 2008. The reason, as per him, and he's right, lies in the fact the electricity grid is the most complex machine ever devised by man. All those regional thingies are connected. And that means that you will get a domino effect. If it had the reselience of the internet, we'd be better off longer. But alas, the grid is made from so many zillion different components from so many different time-frames, it's a miracle it still works at all. It does so because of tons of maintenance. Many parts of the system are maxed out on hot days, as we all know. And they are not easily expanded or replaced, you're talking trillions of bucks to get it all up to date.


From Wikipedia:
Duncan is often called a psuedoscientist as he does not publish in reputable peer-reviewed journals, and because his research has been often quoted by some racially biased organizations and Illuminati conspiracy theorists.


Quoting Duncan gets you nowhere with me. But I’ll give you one point: the grid is a complex beast. The grid works, even in the face of improper maintenance because we understand the science, the equipment that we have deployed and how to manage everything. Go to wikipedia and read up on the details of the east coast blackout and take a look at all of the events that had to happen in succession for the problem to become as big as it did.
I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that Duncan’s prediction about permanent blackouts in 2008 will be as prescient as my ability to pick the next 6 winning numbers in the lottery.

As Peak Oil sinks it’s teeth in, we will scramble to transition everything that we can to our electrical grids. They aren’t ready for it, and there will be problems as they struggle to catch up.
But the grid isn’t going to crash overnight - if you believe that I have a bridge I can sell you and some fabulous land in Florida.
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Re: How does our electrical grid work?

Unread postby drew » Mon 21 Aug 2006, 15:29:14

Fof2's explanation can use some adding to, so here goes. In NA power is generated in 3 phases of 60 cycles/second spaced evenly apart. The current is ac-that is to say it switches direction/polarity sixty times a second. The current feeds to ground after it goes through use in a 'load' (washer, machine, light, etc). The entire grid must be not only entirely in phase (in all three phases), but must also be at the exact same voltage. Voltage and amperage is manipulated at each generating point, in order to keep this very fine balance. This is why it took so long for the power to come back in 03-everything had to be resynchronized at start up. As for phases, most of your house uses only one (120V), except stoves and dryers which uses 2 (240V). Industry uses all three. The grid steps up or reduces voltage for transmission needs and for end use.

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Re: How does our electrical grid work?

Unread postby mortifiedpenguin » Mon 21 Aug 2006, 15:35:34

roel wrote:
Aaron wrote:Electric grids are closed loops... everybody on the loop gets access to the power it carries.

Simply put, to get electricity to you, it must have an unbroken path.

The reality is more complex, but the basic principals still apply.


Sorry to cut your quote a bit, Aaron. You paint a very good picture. But yes, it's more complex. Richard Duncan's Olduvai says permanent black-outs will start in 2008. The reason, as per him, and he's right, lies in the fact the electricity grid is the most complex machine ever devised by man. All those regional thingies are connected. And that means that you will get a domino effect. If it had the reselience of the internet, we'd be better off longer. But alas, the grid is made from so many zillion different components from so many different time-frames, it's a miracle it still works at all. It does so because of tons of maintenance. Many parts of the system are maxed out on hot days, as we all know. And they are not easily expanded or replaced, you're talking trillions of bucks to get it all up to date.

Now, your best bet is to get your own local power system up. And never mind the "selling back to the grid". The grid is dying. Too expensive to keep alive. Sorry.....


This guy believes permanent blackouts will begin in 2008? What a dumbass. And you're even more of a dumbass for believing him.
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Re: How does our electrical grid work?

Unread postby grabby » Wed 30 Aug 2006, 00:48:47

Macrostuffed is making a huge switching computer center and building it next to the biggest hydro dam in USA. Googles is building a huge computer switching system next to a large hydro dam and Yahoo is building a large building in a county near a large hydro dam.

I live in theat state and they know what is coming down, hydro is the only sure bet until it too goes down.


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Still think the electric grid will survive post-peak?

Unread postby smallpoxgirl » Fri 13 Oct 2006, 12:34:33

La Center, WA - A man who cut his way through the chain-link fence of a power station and was electrocuted Wednesday has been identified as 47-year-old Bruce Delbert Wallace
...
Sheriff's deputies said Thursday that they still suspect that Wallace entered the 7,200-volt Clark Public Utilities regulator station ignoring signs that warned of its danger to steal copper wiring he planned to sell as scrap.

Officials in this region and others have reported an increase in copper theft, from power stations and utility poles, often committed by methamphetamine users.
Link

MOBILE, Ala. -- Mobile police said the body of a man who was electrocuted while trying to steal copper wire was found yesterday morning by CSX railroad workers.

Police said the man was trying to steal copper wire from utility poles along railroad property in a marshy area about three miles north of the Cochrane-Africatown USA bridge.
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Sort of wonder how long it's going to be before electrocution is the prescribed punishment for stealing utility wires and not just an accidental outcome.
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Re: Still think the electric grid will survive post-peak?

Unread postby NEOPO » Fri 13 Oct 2006, 13:13:38

I get the funny feeling most of these books to be written will be e-books ;-)
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Re: Still think the electric grid will survive post-peak?

Unread postby chris-h » Fri 13 Oct 2006, 14:00:00

yes.
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Re: Still think the electric grid will survive post-peak?

Unread postby TorrKing » Fri 13 Oct 2006, 14:03:01

What if the hydroelectric stations are blown up by rioting masses? A similar situation to what is currently seen in Bangladesh.
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